A summer love,  picturesque woodland setting and a dark secret makes The Burning Season a film with oodles of intrigue that keeps you wondering.

The familiar team of director Sean Garrity and Jonas Chernick return to the Glasgow Film Festival yet again but this time with something distinctly different to last year’s The End of Sex.

Of course, sex is indeed on the cards in this story where we are introduced to JB (Jonas Chernick) and Alena (Sara Canning) who begin an illicit affair and rekindle a summer love at the same cabin retreat where they met as teenagers. 

In that summer they met it would prove to be pivotal as they now share a secret that binds them.

Chernick stars and also takes on script duties with Diana Frances in a tense drama that from the beginning makes its mark in its unusual way of telling the story backwards.

We get a fast-paced opening scene that includes a wedding full of drama that gives you terrific second-hand cringe. With this, though, there is the battle of continuously trying to build intrigue against a pace that continues to slow down and this is where it has some issues in parts.

The structure of how the story unravels proves to be a key factor with keeping you engaged that counter-balances the slowing pace. Chernick and Frances link certain details together in the timeline well and avoid the pitfall of overcomplicating it all.

But what stems from that is some repetition of dialogue that acts as a nod to other parts of the film that feels a bit too on the nose. 

The performance from Jonas Chernick is one of the best of his career. It’s multifaceted and carefully tackles some hard-hitting themes of addiction, trauma and guilt.

The chemistry with co-star Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries, War of the Planet of the Apes) is one that is complex as it is not your bog-standard love affair story but characters also dealing with shared trauma.

Their teenage counterparts, Christian Meer and Natalie Jane, more than hold their own. And have significant parts in the story that let them showcase what they can do. They both make each scene they are in impactful.

All of this plays out against the breath-taking backdrop of the Canadian wilderness – think Camp Crystal Lake minus the machete. It is a setting that lends itself well to some wonderful cinematography and the use of the natural lighting is stunning.

Some great storytelling decisions in its structure helps elevate The Burning Season to more than a love affair with a twist. Even with its issues it offers enough to keep you hooked to see how it all ultimately unfolds.